Thoughtful Is as Thoughtful Does

I didn’t post yesterday because I am trying out a new thing where I actually give serious thought to what I’m going to say instead of just throwing a bunch of words into WordPress and hitting the PUBLISH button and I was too busy to really focus. Plus, yesterday kinda sucked.

The morning started with me losing my temper with my daughter. She’d stayed up past her bedtime the night before and came into the living room grumpy, sans her math homework and having a coniption because she didn’t understand how to figure the TIP. The TIP for crying out loud! How was she ever going to eat out? After listening to her gripe and complain and not get dressed, I finally lost it. Patience and Self-control? Fail and Fail.

Then I made the mistake of watching C-SPAN and it made me so angry, I violated my recently-imposed rule against posting political stuff on Facebook. Trust me, I am STILL paying the price for that one.

Later, Moon came home from school and we decided to do some work outside. She planted flowers while I cleaned up the rock planter in front of my house. At one point I went to jump on top of it, missed, and landed on my leg, hip and shoulder. Also known as falling down. I might have used what Spongebob refers to as a “conversation enhancer”. As soon as the word slipped out, I remembered what my former pastor used to say, “If you want to see the essence of someone, see what comes out when they get squeezed.” Maybe I have that wrong, cause, gross. But you get the idea.

Perhaps my blog isn’t the only thing that could benefit from some “serious thought”.

And now for some serious costumes:

The Bored Lady Bug

and The Zombie

And now I am going to eat some candy. The trick is to eat it really fast before the serious thoughts about consequences get in the way.

Short and Sweet

I think my last 3 posts are longer than the previous 30, combined. Oh well, today’s will be short because I didn’t almost die OR make a game winning shot. It was, in a word, normal.

But Moon said something that stuck with me. We were walking outside and spotted some deer in our backyard. I was reminded of the photo I’d seen on Facebook of a tween with her first deer, a dead deer. I asked Moon if she’d ever be interested in hunting and she said, “I like to eat venison, but I don’t want to kill it.”

This is how I feel about pretty much everything. I want a nice house, but I don’t want to clean it. I want to be fit, but I don’t want to exercise. I want to go to WalMart, but I don’t want to shower.

Is this what, “The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak” means?

It sounds so simple when it’s put that way. I’d love to help, I’m just so tired. The spirit is willing but the flesh is weak! Ha. Maybe next time.

I looked up the same verse in The Message.

There is a part of you that is eager, ready for anything in God. But there’s another part that’s as lazy as an old dog sleeping by the fire.

Ouch. Now I know why a lot of churches only use the King James Version!


The Power of a Praying Tennis Player

Long-time readers of this blog, (hi, Mom!) know that I play tennis on the weekends with my friend Sharon. Previous posts have mentioned how we pray throughout the match. We do this because:

A) We’re Godly women who talk to Jesus all day long, and/or

B) We are much too busy to actually practice.

My theory is this – if both teams are roughly equal in fitness and skill, but ONE of the teams is praying constantly for help, then that just might make up the difference. Usually I pray for help on points, that my serve will go in, etc. but I’m not above pointing out how our opponents are cussing, seemingly hungover, or are looking really cute in their expensive Nike outfits which proves they are obviously vain and hate the poor.

Last year it didn’t work so well. In fact, we only won ONE match and when our team still somehow made the playoffs, it came down to us and we LOST. I’m not sure why, but for some reason they invited us back and it’s been a much better year. Like, UNDEFEATED, better. So when we made the playoffs again, I was feeling confident.

Side note: Here’s how playoffs work. Each team has five doubles partnerships, ranked from 1 (the best) to 5 (the worst) and the team that wins 3 of the 5 matches wins. It can be the 1s, 2s and 3s or any combination. When I got to the match on Sunday, our 1s were losing, and they were followed quickly by the 2s. Okay, not a big deal. Sure I now HAD to win, but as I mentioned, we were undefeated and what are the chances that it would come down to me and Sharon again?

Pretty good, as it turns out. Our 3s won in a 3rd set tiebreaker, and our 5s won easily in 2 sets. Sharon and I? Well, we were up 3 – 0 in the first set, when somehow the other team took over and won it 6-4. Gulp. Not that I was REALLY concerned. I’d been praying, “3s, 4s, and 5s, Lord” over and over from the moment I stepped on the court. Sharon was praying hard as well. At one point she hit a great shot and when I complimented her, she said “It was Jesus.” Then later when I hit a good shot, she said “I know THAT was Jesus.” She doesn’t just know her Savior’s voice, she knows His backhand!

But as I watched our 3s walk off their court as winners, and I saw that our 5s were winning easily, I realized that yes, once again it would come down to us, and I started worry. Before I knew it, we were down in the 2nd set, 5-2! Since we’d lost the first set, we were only one game away from losing the whole thing! What the what? Couldn’t Jesus hear us praying? Then it hit me. See, we weren’t playing in a subdivision, or at the local park, we were playing at a church. On the crossover, I asked, “So, do you just play out of here, or do you actually go to this church? You probably just play here, right?” But, no. THEY ACTUALLY WENT TO THE CHURCH! Somehow I hadn’t planned for this contingency! Now what? Well, if you’re anything like me, you start to whine. My prayers went from “3s, 4s, and 5s, Lord” to “Why do you have to keep HUMBLING me over and over like this?”

Oh ye of little faith and the unreliable backhand.

Somehow my partner won her serve and the score was 5-3. Our opponents served for the match and suddenly we were at match point. Which Sharon and I won. Then they had match point again. Which Sharon and I won. Then we won the game. Then the next one. And the next one. And the NEXT. From down 5-2 and two match points to winning the 2nd set 7-5!

Since we split sets, our opponents took a break to visit the restrooms, grab a banana, and stall as long as possible to halt our momentum. Sharon and I weren’t having any of it. We stayed out on the court, hitting the ball to keep warm and basically acting like we were in the finals of the US Open. Finally, our opponents came back and we played the 3rd set.

Which Sharon and I WON, 6-2. We WON.

We might have gotten a little excited.

If you replaced the two Olympic athletes with a pair of  pudgy, middle-aged women, it would look exactly the same.

Our team went wild. We, the pair that lost it for everyone last year, came through in dramatic fashion and we go on next week to continue the fight.

On the way to the beach last week, my friend Keekle played a bit of a Louie Giglio podcast called The Comeback. He was talking about Lazarus, who as you know, DIED. To most people that’d be a real setback,  but as the story shows, you never know what the Lord will do.  So next time you find yourself in a desperate situation, remember Lazarus, or my tennis story cause either one would probably work.

Now you know why He has to humble me over and over.

Where I Have a Brush with Death, and prove my Pastor right.

I went to church on Sunday because I am uber-holy, and also because I’ve missed like four of the last five weeks and was pretty sure they were about to kick me out. During the sermon, our pastor mentioned that people are blessed when times are hard because that’s when they rely more heavily on Jesus and not themselves. Which is so true- like this weekend when I almost died.

I should probably start at the beginning.

I have this friend. Let’s call her Mantamy. Mantamy is one of the people that inspire you to do great things. And by “great”, I mean “insane.” If you ever read in the paper that I’ve died by bungee jumping off the Space Needle or hand-feeding a tiger, you can be sure it was probably Mantamy’s idea. She’s the one who got me to go to India despite the fact that I hate traveling or flying or generally anything that involves leaving my couch. But a couple of weeks ago, she invited me and three other girls to a weekend at her beach house, and I thought “Now THIS sounds like a fun trip. How scary can the beach be?” Besides, the ocean and I have long-set boundaries. After all, I saw Jaws in the theater when it first came out. My idea of fun is sitting in the sand with a book, and a beer, and I was pretty sure Mantamy would have plenty of both for me.

As if God wanted to give me a reminder, while I was packing, the movie Red Water was playing on the television.

Seriously. No thank YOU. To make matters even more clear, when I got to the beach, Mantamy told us how sorry she was that we’d gotten there so late because earlier, she’d seen a bunch of fish jumping in the water so she took her kayak out to where something called a “bait ball” was, and not only did she see the fish but, and this is the part that she liked, also sharks. Big sharks. Sharks big enough that she started to think that maybe she should leave in case they bumped her kayak and knocked her in the water. Mmm kay.

You can imagine that I wasn’t ready to jump into a kayak. Friday, Mantamy and the other girls, Keekle and Eli, all took them out for a spin, and I don’t want to be a tattle-tale, but not one of them wore a life jacket. Granted, Mantamy only had ONE which probably came with the house, but still it seemed like at least one of them should have worn it. I don’t know much about water safety but it seems sort of unsafe.  Kinda of like taking a kakak TOWARD something called a bait ball. Surprisingly, they all made it back alive.

By Saturday, I knew that I would have to at least go out in the kayak so that the girls wouldn’t call me lame. Keekle, Eli and I got them ready to put in the water, which is when Matamy mentioned that we’d need to hurry ’cause she’d “just spotted another bait ball and if we were quick we’d probably also see sharks.” Obviously, I had no intention of actually going anywhere NEAR something called bait, but I followed the others at a distance. By the time they made it to spot where all the fish were jumping and the birds were diving, it ended. The bait buffet moved on down the ocean, and I put a fake disappointed expression on my face, and went to join the others.

Which is when I looked to my left and saw this:

Or it’s slightly smaller cousin. So, I immediately yelled SHARK, then started freaking out and praying under my breath because, like my pastor said, there are times when it feels like if Jesus doesn’t show up, you’re in serious trouble, and that time is when you see a shark. Did I mention that Keekle looked down and saw two under her kayak? Or that Eli started paddling TOWARD us so she could see it? Or that I am the only sane one in this story?

My first instinct was to paddle the heck out of dodge, but because I’ve studied sharks by watching a lot of movies, I knew that the last thing you want to do is smack the water like a wounded fish. So I kept praying. And then I asked ELI to smack around like a wounded fish if she was in such a big hurry to see a shark and while she did that, I left. Surprisingly, we all made it back alive.

So, now thanks to Mantamy, I have seen India AND a shark. And I suppose I’ve drawn closer to Jesus because of both of those things.

She must keep Him REALLY busy.

Faith-based Posts

You may have noticed this already, but I don’t write deep, faith-based posts very often. Okay, practically never. But it’s not because I CAN’T, it’s because it seems so fake when I do it. But faith-based blogs are very popular, and there seems to be a formula for doing it, so maybe I should give it a shot.

Step 1: Find a innoculous story, make it seems bigger and more important. Also, use bold text.

A few years ago, I found a lovely vase at a yard sale. It was hidden among the odds and ends, easy to overlook, but something about it called to me. I picked it up, taken with its patina. Turning it over, I was happy to find that it was marked, Hull. Sometimes the most beautiful things are found in the most unusual places.

Unsure what to do with it, I finally put it in my bathroom and filled it with seashells – a man made piece of pottery, filled with God-made shells. A few years ago, my father was visiting. He got up in the middle of the night and made his way to the bathroom. A few minutes later, I heard a terrible sound, like glass breaking. I went to the door and met my father wearing a sheepish look* on his face. He’d knocked the vase to the floor and the tile was littered with hundreds of small shells. I assured him it was fine. Every fall does not result in damage.

A few weeks ago, my daughter was in the bathroom, and once again I heard the sound of hundreds of small shells hitting the tile. When I entered the bathroom, she looked at me with wide eyes. The vase lay in the floor, a large piece broken and beside it. I assured her it was fine. Broken things can often be healed. We picked up the pieces together** and I put the piece back in the vase. The small crack was barely noticeable.

Last week, my mother was in town. Once again, I heard the sound of a hundred shells hitting the tile. I opened the door to find my mother standing over the pieces. I assured her it was fine. The damage we think we’ve caused, is often the result of previous brokenness. I sent her on her way, then bent to pick up the shells once more.*** As I put the piece back in the vase, and moved it to the counter, it occurred to me that it was a lot like life.

Tie it all together in a grand way:

Often we’re like that vase. Our messy lives intersect with others and we’re knocked to the floor. We may look the same, but there are tiny cracks, cracks that can be healed with time, or made worse, depending on who we come into contact with. Sometimes, the only way to be healed is to move.

Finally, for the big finale, use a soft-focus photograph to illustrate your point, and hammer it home.

Even in our brokenness, we hold God’s handiwork.

I hope you’ve been blessed by this post. And the fact that I don’t do them often.

*He actually looked annoyed, not sheepish.

** She didn’t help. As if.

*** I picked them up hours later, after the yard sales.

12,000 Calorie Day

I woke up this morning late. It was 7:30 a.m. which normally wouldn’t be a big deal, but this week is Conference Week at Moon’s school and we were supposed to be at her school by 8:20. I didn’t have time to shower, so I threw on some yoga pants, a t-shirt from my local gym, and a baseball cap. Basically, I wore a costume. JD said a towel around my shoulders was a bridge too far, so I just went a water bottle and headphones. If her teacher wondered why someone working out so much was still so fat, she hid it well.

Moon got a very nice report card, and even better, one of the teachers commented that she was “one of the sweetest girls in 6th grade”. JD and I had already decided we were going to make a big deal out of her making the honor roll, you know, in hopes that she might make it a habit, but with the addition of the “sweetest” comment, we went all out. And by “all out”, I mean we went to WalMart. We got her a Google play card, a cake with Star Wars on it, went home and WATCHED Star Wars, then went out to her favorite, O’Charley’s where we let her have all the rolls.

I think we really showed her how proud we are of her, and I believe she’ll go to school and continue to be focused. Well, not tomorrow because she’s had a stomach ache for the last two hours, but Wednesday, Thursday at the latest.

I Know Nothing

This weekend was full of things I thought I knew, but didn’t. It’s like High School all over again! First of all, Thursday. I THOUGHT my mother and Aunt Fay were coming to town so we could hit some yard sales, but then my mom showed up ALONE. What the what? Mom said that Fay called right before she left saying she was “under the weather”. When someone in my family misses a yard sale, under the weather can only mean one of two things:

A. They are dying. Aunt Fay has been talking about coming here for months, so the only thing that could stop her would be death. I was just about to call Sells Funeral Home and book the parlor, when it occurred to me that Aunt Fay had just come back from a trip to the beach and that she looked awfully healthy in the Facebook photos, so maybe under the weather meant –

B. She doesn’t like us. This is not uncommon in our family, especially when we spend a lot of time together. This is probably the most reasonable answer and was pretty much confirmed when mom called her a few hours after being here and surprise, Fay had made a remarkable recovery.

Later, she called and asked me to tell my mother to stop and buy her some Vidalia onions and I said I would, but then I threw the message away because who wants to spend money on onions for someone who may or may not be dying and probably doesn’t like us?

Saturday, my mom left town in a fairly full truck and I prepared for the Youth/Parent dinner. Since it was also our monthly Supper Club, JD and I were splitting duties. He was going to cook something yummy and go to supper club, while Moon and I were going to show up at the Youth/Parent dinner for some delicious barbeque. Except that it turns out it was actually a Youth Parent’s Dinner and kids weren’t invited. Which, let’s face it, is WAY better. But then I got there and found out that the mock-tails they were serving meant “fake” and not that we were going to drink them and mock people, so it wasn’t quite as exciting as I’d hoped. Then they told us how we can’t just expect the Church to lead our kids spiritually but that WE as parents need to be engaged, to not just tell our kids how to live, but to BE what we want our children to be.

Which I would TOTALLY be up for except that I have a pretty full plate, what with my poor Aunt Fay dying. Also, I’ve been a tad under the weather.

Fun Is On The Way

It’s that time again – when Estate Sale Companies rejoice and women in suburbs everywhere start pulling items from closets and cabinets – Mom and Aunt Fay are coming to town! We’ve already found a Thursday sale, so I expect them to pull into the driveway before noon. So far, I’ve got these plans made:

Thursday: Estate Sale

Thursday night: Chili

Friday: Estate Sale and Garage Sale

Friday night: Spaghetti

Saturday: Estate Sale and Garage Sale

Unless we find some sales that run at night, then I’ll have to revise that schedule.

In anticipation of their visit, I’ve  compiled a chart of all the things we need:

Guess Mama doesn’t need to drive the HEMI after all.

Television vs. Real Life

I’m watching the first thirty minutes of Scandal because last Thursday when it was actually ON, I was watching Project Runway. I hate it when all my shows collide. Anyway, Olivia finds out that her mild-mannered father is actually running a CIA-type of covert government agency and NOT selling antiquities as previously thought. Yeah, that could happen. Maybe MY dad is doing the same – maybe Jackie isn’t taking a load to Winder, but is instead holding a sniper rifle in Syria, and instead of meeting with “clients” to build a “retaining wall”, he’s meeting with CLIENTS to build a “thing that goes BOOM”.

But I am also watching Nashville and the young girl finds out that her mom dated a country music playing, guitar toting cutie named Deacon and that her father is not her father, but Deacon is. So maybe my dad isn’t CIA, but is a country music star, like Kris Kristofferson! You know, I used to talk about running to Nashville and finding Kris, and my mother always discouraged me. Now I know WHY.

But if my dad is not really who he says HE is, what about my mom? I was watching Once Upon A Time and Henry found out his mom is ACTUALLY a evil queen from the enchanted forest who’s made everyone in the town forget who they really are, like Snow White and Jiminy Cricket.

I’ve always secretly believed I was actually a princess. Cinderella would make a lot of sense. Tania-the-mad fits as the mean step-sister anyway.

The Weekend Recap

It’s good to be home. Not that I didn’t love my time in Birmingham, but there’s only so much Hampton Inn a girl can stand. They didn’t even have a BAR. I’m not sure who planned the event, but it seems like a pretty big thing to overlook for a Writers’ Conference venue.

I left early on Friday and drove as fast as I could go in order to make it to a 9 a.m. workshop. I spent the next 7 hours listening to a discussion on plot, character, and dialogue. Then our leader read excerpts from books that showed good examples of those three things, and I read my own stuff to see examples of bad.

Friday night I met up with some writing friends and we went to dinner. I’d spent the previous week eating nothing but lettuce and tomatoes and the occasional chick pea, so I was more than ready for Bonefish. One of the people in our party mentioned she didn’t eat fish, and I was all like, “Really? That’s too bad. Could you scoot over, I need more room for my appetizers.”

Saturday, I went back to the conference where there was not one, but TWO editors from New York who had rejected my novel over the past year. I sat through their classes and I’m sorry to say that I didn’t quite feel that they were what I was looking for. “Yes, I’d like a speaker evaluation form, thank you. Can I have fifteen?” Saturday evening, I raced back home because it was my 17 year anniversary and I didn’t feel like JD should sit alone on the couch looking at his Ipad, when he could sit beside me on the couch while he looked at his Ipad.

And finally, Sunday. We made it to church and this time, Moon was able to make it through the entire service without blowing her nose. Afterward, I met my tennis partner and we played a VERY important match against a team that was tied with us for first place and we totally won in two sets because we’re awesome. Also, Jesus. We were both praying the whole time and I kept telling Him that while I knew He loved all four of us, He didn’t hear THEM asking for help, did He?

It was a fun, but tiring weekend. I was going to go into work tomorrow, but luckily I found out it’s a holiday. I wouldn’t want to besmirch the memory of Columbus with something as crass as labor. Heck, I like Columbus so much, I might even honor him with two days!